Curfew-hit Kashmir hit by shortages of food, medicines

Monitoring Desk

SRINAGAR: With shops shut for a 15th day due to official restrictions, curfew-bound occupied Kashmir facing shortages of essential items, including food and medicines.

Shops remained shuttered on Monday too while cellphone and mobile Internet services continued to be suspended across the occupied Valley.

An unprecedented security lockdown and near-total communication blockade has continued since Sunday night in occupied Kashmir, a day before the Hindu nationalist-led government in New Delhi scrapped the disputed Himalayan region’s autonomous status. New Delhi rushed tens of thousands of additional soldiers to one of the world’s most militarized regions to stave off more unrest from rebels who have been fighting Indian rule for decades.

Tens of thousands of police and soldiers have fanned out across Kashmir to impose curfew as authorities suspended all telephone and internet services as part of the massive the security lockdown, energizing Kashmir’s powerful grapevine.

Over a million people live inside the security siege of Srinagar. The hardships, residents say, are slowly unfolding.

They have begun to face shortages of food and other necessities as shops remain shuttered and public movement limited. With schools closed, parents have struggled to entertain kids at home. Patients have faced shortages of prescription drugs. ATMs are cashless and banks shut.

Meanwhile, thousands of people flouting curfew and other restrictions took to streets, at least, at 47 places across the territory and staged protest demonstrations against illegal Indian occupation and the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government.

Scores of people including a girl and little child were injured when Indian troops fired bullets, pellets and teargas shells on protesters in Soura, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Lal Bazaar Gojwara and Kathi Darwaza in Srinagar and Dooru area of Islamabad district, yesterday.

Indian authorities have arrested thousands of people since the imposition of unabated curfew and other restrictions on August 5 when Narendra Modi government announced scraping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Most of the detainees were flown out of Kashmir in military aircrafts. The jails in the occupied territory have run out of capacity.

In utter disregard to human rights, Indian troops and paramilitary forces’ personnel molested scores of women and girls during house raids and arrested hundreds of teenage boys in different areas of the Kashmir valley. This was revealed in a report released by a group of rights activists in New Delhi. The report was prepared after conversations with hundreds of affected people in and around the Kashmir valley.

A group of 18 doctors from across India warned that the grim situation in occupied Kashmir had led to a blatant denial of the right to healthcare in the territory due to curfew and communication blackout. The doctors through a joint letter urged the Indian government to lift the curfew at the earliest.

IOK’s political leadership including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, former puppet chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti along with political leaders and activists continue to remain under house arrest or in jails.

On the other hand, thousands of Canadians gathered in Toronto to raise their voice for the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir. People from all walks of life and belonging to all faiths attended the protest demonstration, which was organized by Friends of Kashmir Canada. The protesters were carrying placards and banners reading slogans like, “Modi is the New Hitler” and “Who said Hitler is Dead, Meet Modi, the PM of India”.

On August 5, the Indian government had announced the scrapping of the special status of occupied Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

However, people defied curfew and came out of their houses in Srinagar on Saturday and protested against abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian government.

Several people were injured including six of them critically when the troops used force and fired pellets and bullets on the protesters.

The authorities also continue to impose information blockade as TV channels and internet links remain snapped and restrictions on media continue since 5th August.

Almost all Hurriyat leaders, including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have been put under house arrest or in jails. Due to severe blockade, a famine-like situation is emerging as people are facing severe shortage of essential commodities including baby food and life-saving medicines and occupied Kashmir represents a humanitarian crisis in all its manifestations.

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